Danish Delights #4: 1981 OScar


Does this shape look familiar? As is practically always the case when you see this shape, it is not an original Cobra. In fact, despite its turbocharger, Carroll Shelby would probably not particularly approve of what is under the iconic shape on this particular car.

As a young man Ole Sommer looked to Italy for inspiration. It was here, he felt, that the most beautiful and interesting cars were made. Being an automotive engineer Lancias were of course the most alluring cars. For looks, the Ferrari 166 Barchettas had the perfect shape. It was with these unfulfilled childhood dreams of building Italian exotics that Sommer again started thinking about car building as the seventies were coming to a close.


As with the Joker he used square tubes to build the skeleton for the car and as with the Joker he galvanized the whole thing before dressing it up in fiberglass. But Sommer wanted to build a sports car and the Joker ended up being boxier than its donor car, the Volvo 142. Therefore, he looked to England where he found a company that could supply him with the Barchetta-inspired AC Cobra body. It turned out, though, that the five bodies he received were warped, so he commissioned a Danish boat-building company to build the bodies for the car which he humbly named OScar – which is what it was: an Ole Sommer car.


Supposedly the base car had a 112 horsepower naturally aspirated engine and since he used Volvo components I assume that engine was a B23A (2.3, four-cylinder, carburetor). The one that seems to have been most prevalent, however, was the engine offered in the 760 Turbo, the B23ET (2.3, four-cylinder, fuel injection, turbocharged). It pumped out 173 horsepower and made the OScar capable of reaching 62mph in less than seven seconds. The transmission is the M46 4-speed with overdrive that came in several Volvos at the time.


Volvo guys and gals will notice the Volvo steering wheel and steering column, alloy wheels, and the gear knob, 760 Turbo badge in the grill.

Sales proved difficult as Denmark, for one, would not approve them without crash testing, and Sommer found this a waste of a good car. In the US getting the car approved was even harder, so sales ended up at 19 with Sommer keeping a twentieth for himself having learned from his mistakes when selling off his other attempts at building cars. Volvo did not like being associated with a car that was not crash tested, so the car could not be sold through their dealer network. In the end, three of them did end up in Denmark on dispensation. Sommer interviewed potential buyers, for the two cars he was selling, about literature and art and such higher matters. He knew Ettore Bugatti had done the same and felt – like a true eccentric – that this placed him somewhere in that league. There is, by the way a Bugatti in Sommer’s museum. The other seventeen were exported to Germany, the US, Andorra, Lithuania and Abu Dhabi and possibly other nations.


In the photos you can see a hardtop on the floor behind it. There is another OScar atop the museum entrance. That one, however, is just a shell.

An American company had two cars delivered for promotion purposes and to generate buzz, but as mentioned, the car never received the proper paperwork. Auto Week even test-drove the OScar in 1985, but to no avail. The two cars were, however, sold, but at a loss. One of them was offered up for sale recently (43,000 USD). In Denmark the 112 horsepower base version listed at 298,000 DKK. A Volvo 240 DL with the B23A listed at 197,932 DKK in 1986, so that was a fifty percent premium over the 240.


Even though there are a million different takes on the Cobra out there, there is something to be said about a fully galvanized, fiberglass-bodied car with old school Volvo mechanicals. It should be virtually indestructible.


“I heart OScar” in Danish.